Ile de Re and the cat-eating KiwisWednesday, 11 July 2012
|This cat was NOT eaten by anyone.|
I met them again this year, and all was no longer well on their paradise isle.
They were planning on leaving and moving to Canada, after a series of unfortunate (and unpleasant) events.
After a neighbour's cat disappeared, a rather odd rumour started to spread throughout the close-knit community. Apparently, Suzy the cat was not missing. She had been killed, but not only killed... she had also been eaten. And who was the mysterious cat hannibal*? Native New Zealander, Blair.
Instead of being ignored as village fodder, the rumour got legs. Not only had Blair supposedly killed and eaten this cat, he had done the same to over 200 felines from the island.
When Suzy's owner confronted him, she also slapped him, fracturing his cheekbone.
Things got nastier. Katia, Blair's French wife, was a family doctor in the village. A well liked, respectable GP. Until everyone got wind of the horror story, and avoided her practise. Excrement was smeared on her door, accompanied by a spray painted swastika. A parade of vigilante protester's led a march which began at their home, where they live with their three young children.
After months of abuse, Blair and Katia decided enough was enough, and are moving to Canada to start a new life. As Blair says, "Rumours don't die. Legends become of rumours."
The story was reported on 60 Minutes, a New Zealand programme... (sorry I can't embed it here) There are points where the tale seems like a hilarious skit. But when you realise it really has happened, it's suddenly not quite as funny any more.
* I'm furious that I didn't see the potential for Animal Lector here. Furious. The reporter for 60 Minutes did. I almost wrote Cattibal Lector. That's how close I was. Idiot.